Tuckerton Adopts Resolution to Study Back Bay Mitigation

Apr 05, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Stafford Mayor John Spodofora addresses the Tuckerton Borough Council about his resolution to use lagoon dredging to fill in and strengthen islands in area bays.

Tuckerton Borough Council is on board with a plan to ask the state to study area bays for the purpose of mitigation projects to reduce the impacts of major storms.

The plan, in the form of a resolution, was approved by the council Monday, following approval by Stafford and Little Egg Harbor townships. Stafford Township Mayor John Spodofora, who originated the plan, was on hand at Tuckerton’s April 3 meeting to explain it.

The resolution will be sent to the 9th District state legislators and to Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (2nd District) and Tom MacArthur (3rd District) for their consideration.

Spodofora noted that sea level is rising and many of the small islands that lie between Long Beach Island and the mainland are inundated with flood waters more often than in the past. He proposes to use the dredge material from lagoon communities to fill geotubes (long, sand-filled bags used to make sand dunes more stable) and attach them to the islands while they de-water, and then back fill with more dredge material and plant “phyto-remediation” vegetation that would remove any chemicals from the dredged mud.

The resolution states that most damage from Superstorm Sandy was result of wave action and dune failure on Long Beach Island. Although it would be impossible to address all factors that contribute to coastal flooding, authorities can address one of the most severe threats: wave height and wave run-up by controlling “fetch” (the unencumbered speed of wind over water) in the bays.

Restoring and elevating the islands would also improve nesting grounds for shore birds.

“We have lost 72 percent of our critical nesting areas along our bays,” said Spodofora. “Sea level is rising, though I can’t say it’s from climate change. It is rising and the spring tides (highest tides in the month) are washing the nests away. The berms will enlarge the Barnegat Bay nesting sites, and that’s good for the environment.”

The federal government is currently constructing a mitigation project on Cedar Bonnet Island as part of the Causeway Bridge project and is using dredge spoils to establish a 20-foot-high berm to restore habitat, the Stafford mayor noted. Additional berms on islands planted with native species would do the same thing, he added.

“Recent legislation tells us we need to start reusing dredged material. It would cost $100 million to dredge all of (the lagoons in) Beach Haven West, but 85 percent of that cost is disposal of the dredge material. If you take the cost of disposal away, that leaves $15 million,” he said.

“In discussion with the scientists, I was told, ‘You are not going to dredge the bay. Could you use the dredge material from the lagoons?’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s not going to be such a hardship,’” he joked.

In meetings with LoBiondo, MacArthur, state Sen. Chris Connors and the state Department of Environmental Protection, Spodofora said they would lobby to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge lagoons and the Intracoastal Waterway, put the material in geotubes for de-watering, and create upland areas along the marshland to mitigate further damage from the force of waves.

“It’s economics. As tourism goes down, so does the economics of the area,” Spodofora said. “In Stafford Township we lost $200 million in ratables from Sandy, and we are only 60 percent recovered.”

“I am continually impressed with how well Tuckerton and Little Egg are responding to this. We sit at a table and run ideas back and forth. We (municipalities) are not just lines on a map. We’re all joined together by our economics and our bay.”

Spodofora said there is “hundreds of millions of Sandy grant money still out there, and so far, Ocean County has not seen much of it. We want a piece of that to bring our bay back and protect our back-bay areas.”

Eagleswood and Bass River townships on the mainland will also consider the resolution, and towns on Long Beach Island will adopt it, predicted Spodofora.

In other matters, Council President Sam Colangelo stating how well the mayor, council, administration and police department work together: “As a group, we work in an effective manner in a non-hostile environment. We may not agree on everything, but we are able to discuss things. We don’t second-guess each other; we have the ability to work together.”

Mayor Sue Marshall awarded a proclamation to members of the Tuckerton Library Association and Tuckerton branch librarian Toni Smirnow, declaring April 9-15 as National Library Week. Smirnow said the branch has transformed a portion of the library on Bay Avenue into a makers space, where there is a sewing machine, a drill, 3-D printer and recycled items for “making stuff from something else.” The branch has held successful makers’ camps for teens during the summer and will do so again this year.

Tuckerton Library Association Vice President Paula Sullivan invited the public to the annual open house on April 20.

Councilman Mike Santo noted that the construction department took in $11,935 in revenue, gave out 56 permits and did 50 inspections. Code enforcement did 25 inspections.

Tuckerton Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Dale Eggert said the fire company responded to 14 fire calls in March, and emergency services responded to 11 calls and the company did six training drills.

After the meeting, he said fire company members are still discussing the idea of establishing a fire district, whereby they would receive funds through a municipal tax rather than be a line item in the town’s annual budget. The company has three trucks that have an average age of 26 years, and the company could use a ladder truck to service some of the new taller buildings going up in Tuckerton Beach. At present, if they have a need for a ladder truck that can reach 107 feet, they call the Mystic Island Fire Co. But if there were a situation where both towns have fires at the same time, Tuckerton would be without that truck.

If the Tuckerton company were able to purchase a 107-foot aerial truck, it would retire two of the older fire trucks. “It’s extremely hard to get a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant in order to purchase the truck,” Eggert said.

Finally, Marshall announced that Pinelands Regional High School students will hold a dance marathon on Friday, May 19 to raise money for the school. It costs $100 to register a team and there are other ways to contribute, such as sponsoring the DJ and donating refreshments.

— Pat Johnson


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